Rep. Brooks Joins Wolf Blitzer to Discuss North Korea
April 28, 2017
Washington, DC – Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), a member of both the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, today appeared on CNN to offer his insights on North Korea’s national security threat to the United States, the role of China in the Asia-Pacific, and the risks facing America from national deficit and debt.
To watch video of the interview, click HERE or on the image above.
A transcript of the interview can be found below.
Wolf: Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama is joining us. He's a member of both the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
Rep. Brooks: My pleasure.
Wolf: You studied North Korea. You know the ramifications - the enormous impact. This may be the gravest national security threat facing the United States right now. I don't know if you agree with that, but a lot of people believe it is. When the President says there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea, absolutely, let me get your reaction.
Rep. Brooks: That's the way it's been for 64 years ever since the Korean conflict ended in, I think it was 1953. Technically the war - never a peace treaty - it’s always been a suspension of military activities. Now, fortunately, we've not had the kind of outbreaks and the loss of life that we had during the Korean conflict. I think his statement is consistent with reality, but it's a little bit bold for a President to actually say it.
Wolf: Yeah, that's what I thought too. There is enormous concern. And, let's not forget there are millions of people who live within 30 miles of the demilitarized zone in South Korea and 28,000 U.S. troops along the DMZ as well. Listen to what the President said in the interview with Reuters about Kim Jong-Un when he took power when his father, Kim Jung-Il, died. Listen to this.
“He's 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So, say what you want. But, that's not easy, especially at that age. I’m not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I’m just saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational.”
Wolf: Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, he said this on Fox News. And, I’ll read you the - he said, “All indications are that he is not crazy” - referring to Kim Jong-Un – “he may be ruthless, he may be a murderer, he may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational, but he is not insane.” Your comments?
Rep. Brooks: I hope that he is rational. I concur with the President's remarks in that regard. To me, I've always thought of him as a very smart person who knows how to act crazy in order to achieve goals. On the other hand, it may not be an act. You never know for sure. There’s always some degree of question about how good our intelligence is about the mental state of someone who acts like this dictator in North Korea. But, if he is rational, then he must know that if he attacks South Korea or the United States that he will die. That will be an end result. There will be, of course, people in South Korea and the United States that may also perish at the hands of this North Korean dictatorship. But, if he is rational and he wants to live, then the mutually assured destruction doctrine that we've had with the Soviet Union, now Russia and China ought to deter him from engaging in the kind of military activity that he threatens on a regular basis.
Wolf: I've heard some of your colleagues say they’re frustrated because they don’t think U.S. intelligence has been all that great in providing the answer to his rationality. Are you confident that you know whether the guy is rational or not rational?
Rep. Brooks: Well, I'm going to skip the rationality for a second and go to a classified briefing I had in the last few days. And, it's quite clear that sometimes we are surprised by the advances that the North Koreans are making with respect to certain things that I’m not at liberty to discuss.
Wolf: In terms of their military advances?
Rep. Brooks: I'm not going to get into any kind of details except to say that I would expect that same kind of uncertainty applies to the mental state of the North Korean dictator. Keeping in mind that even under the best of circumstances, we have psychologists and sociologists, whatever, making evaluations. There’s always some degree of uncertainty about the mental state of somebody. And, I say that having been a prosecutor and a defense attorney where we litigate mental states of mind on a regular basis.
Wolf: Is China helpful right now in dealing with this nuclear threat?
Rep. Brooks: They can be.
Wolf: But, are they as far as you know right now?
Rep. Brooks: Okay, I’m going to give a big picture. It’s my impression that for years, decades, China has been using North Korea for purposes that benefit the Chinese. By way of example, to the extent we're distracted with our strategy thinking, our military to South Korea and North Korea, then we're not focusing on what China is doing in the South China Sea perhaps as much as we should be focused on the advances that the Chinese communist government is making there. It might also be that the Chinese are concerned that President Trump might actually implement that currency manipulation tariff that would have a significant adverse effect on the Chinese economy. In turn would mean less money for their military buildup. To the extent they can act like an honest broker, they might can protect this $350 billion trade advantage they have vis-a-vis the United States and be able to keep back Donald Trump and the United States effort to try to balance the playing field when it comes to trade. So, I see them using North Korea in a lot of different ways - that being one of them.
Wolf: Yeah, China is now emerging as the number one trading partner for the United States, Canada and Mexico, two and three. It’s a big issue. In the midst of all of this, the President, in that interview, says you know what, South Korea should pay the U.S. a billion dollars for the deployment of that THAD anti-missile system in South Korea to deal with the potential threat from North Korea. What do you think about that? You’re on the Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Brooks: I think we have a $600 billion deficit. We have a $20 trillion debt. We're headed to insolvency and bankruptcy in the United States of America if we don't change our path. That’s basically the warning of the Congressional Budget Office, the Comptroller General, and other federal government agencies. To the extent we can encourage our allies to pay for more of their own defense, including the cost to us of defending them - that's of great benefit to the solvency of our country.
Wolf: But, do you think it's wise to raise that at a tense moment like this?
Rep. Brooks: I think it's wise to raise the cost, and our deficit and debt at every moment keeping in mind that as Admiral Mike Mullen testified before the House Armed Services Committee not that long ago when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - what was the number one national security threat to the United States? It wasn't North Korea - wasn’t China - wasn’t Russia - wasn’t Iran. It was our debt. Because our debt is what long-term can bring America to its knees and we better deal with it quick before it happens.
Wolf: We’ll see if the President can convince South Korea to hand over a billion dollars for the deployment of that THAD anti-missile system. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
Rep. Brooks: My pleasure, Wolf.
Wolf: Thank you, Mo Brooks of Alabama.